Wednesday, July 30, 2014

RWA Conference Notes

This month, I'm talking about San Antonio, Texas, where the RWA 2014 conference was held. San Antonio is a delightful city with lots of touristy things to do, including the Riverwalk. And I do mean a river that swirls around a beautifully landscaped park-like setting, with man made water falls, a mini mall loaded with stores, eateries, ice cream shops, and of course, the boat tour that you just have to do.

Meet my sidekick, a dear friend of mine, Karen Matusekewski, whom I've known for many years. We haven't seen each other in twelve years, but you'd never know that because we picked up right where we left off. 

After the boat tour, we went to Zocca's on the Riverwalk and had lunch and dinner. I've often wondered what you'd call lunch and dinner since breakfast and lunch are called 'brunch', so I've given it a name. I'm coining it 'linner'. Fortunately, our waiter, Raul didn't seem to mind that we hung out for three hours until happy hour when the noise level rose to new heights.

Wednesday night was the Literacy Signing and I was one of the 500 plus authors signing. We authors always look forward to this signing because the proceeds go directly to a literacy organization. This year, RWA donated $56,000. This is always exciting because people line up throughout the halls just to get inside. To give you an idea of how we're set up, here are two pics.

 And here's my set up!

Meet some of my newest fans! 

These ladies drove all the way from Fort Worth for the signing!

Thursday was the start of conference. The excitement mounts over  hooking up with old friends, making new ones and networking, meeting agents and editors, and watching writers/authors pace back and forth practicing their pitches until they deliver. Yes, it's all part of the thrill of conference. Meeting my friends on Facebook for the first time is a hoot and catching up with my peers from Montlake Romance is the best.

I did meet an agent I'd love to have represent me, but we kept missing each other. I didn't have an appointment and didn't want to pitch to her in the bathroom. Seriously. Now, I wish I had! But not all is lost, because I'll query her and see if she likes my work. 

Later today, I'm heading over to blog at The Write Authors today to finish this post.  Click on the link and it will take you right to the rest of this post. I have a ton of pictures from the Montlake party!

I'm also giving away copies of Dishing Up Romance to three lucky winners for signing up for my monthly newsletter where I'll be dishing about the latest news in the life of Carolyn and KT. This newsletter will be different than most because I'll be hosting contests,  and giving away swag and prizes. So what are you waiting for?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Coming Soon!

Hi everyone!

The RWA conference was wonderful. I have lots to tell you and lots of pictures to show you, but I'm playing beat the clock here trying to catch up. I'll post something by mid-week. Please stop back. You don't want to miss this one!


Sunday, July 20, 2014


I'm so excited! I'll be leaving for San Antonio on Tuesday morning for the RWA conference where I'm going to see so many of my friends like Carolyn Brown, Shirley Marks, and many others, and of course, make new ones. But one of the most exciting reunions is with my friend, Karen Matuszewski, whom I haven't seen in about seventeen years. Karen and I worked together in the Legal Department at Bellcore in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, and have remained friends ever since, although somehow, we lost contact when she moved to Austin, Texas. But it didn't take long to revitalize that span of missed contact.

Now years later, and we get to have a week of girlfriendism--a pajama party of sorts. In between my networking and attending workshops, we'll do some sightseeing and party hearty at night.  I hear the Riverwalk in San Antonio is pretty darn awesome.

And besides all that, I have two publisher parties to attend, two signings: the Literary Signing on Wednesday night, and on Saturday afternoon, my publisher, Montlake Romance, is sponsoring a signing and we'll be giving the books away for free. So if you're in the area of the Marriott Riverwalk, please stop by and say hello and while you're at it, grab a signed copy of my latest release, Catering to Love.

Another exciting event takes place on Saturday night. The Gala Affair where some really BIG named authors will attend and cheer on those authors who've been nominated for the Golden Heart Awards or a RITA. This is always an exciting event because it's just like the Academy Awards. Such an amazing event.

I haven't even started to pack yet, but I have no doubt things will fall into place tomorrow. In the meantime, I'll be taking lots of pictures and will do a post on the week when I return so you can meet my friends.

See you when I get back!!

Monday, July 14, 2014


Who’s the most hated woman in America? If you had asked a few years ago, you would have heard a resounding Casey Anthony. Today however, as I’m sure you know from the media circus that’s been commandeering the various outlets, is whom I call, the Queen of Cool—Jodi Arias.  
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think this woman is cool at all. I think she’s the Queen of Deceit who obviously thought her good looks and cleverly thought out calm demeanor was going to free her from the heinous crime she’d committed on June 4, 2008 when she took Travis Alexander’s life.
Let’s take a look at the facts: Ms. Arias is currently a 32 year old wholesome-looking, attractive woman, who appears as though she couldn’t hurt a fly. But from what we’ve learned through her own admission, and the evidence presented—is not the sweetheart she pretends to be. And the jury certainly didn’t think so when they convicted her of pre-meditated 1st degree murder of her former lover, Travis Alexander. A man she stabbed multiple times over his entire body, slit his throat right through to his spine, then ultimately shot him in the head, right above his eyebrow that ended the final chapter of what would have been a budding career and bright future!  Why such a horrific crime? She claims it was self-defense. But if she really believed that, why did she run off and try to cover up what happened? Why did she clean his apartment afterward, wash the bloody towels, and even run his camera through the washing machine? Why did she run the dishwasher? There was a knife in the basket, but it’s unclear as to whether it was the actual knife. Why did she lie to the police by saying she hadn’t been there? And then when they presented evidence to the contrary, why did she change her story and admit she was there when two masked intruders broke in?  
So what happened? What caused this woman to commit such a brutal crime? The experts say it was a jealous rage when she found out the victim was ending it with her.
Below is timeline of events.
In September of 2006, Jodi and Travis met at a work convention in Las Vegas. At the time, he was a motivational speaker and legal insurance salesman; she was a photographer who was seeking a position as a salesman.  Description:
She was from California, he, from Arizona. Travis Alexander was a Mormon.
The two had an immediate attraction for one another and started dating. In November of that same year, Arias was baptized a Mormon, which was sponsored by Travis in a ceremony in Utah.
The two dated until June 2007 when they broke up, but they continued to see each other for sex. I guess neither took their vow of celibacy to heart. At the time, Jodi was living with her grandparents in California but later decided to move to Arizona where she took a job waiting tables and also cleaned Travis’ apartment for extra cash. And that’s where she found out that Travis was taking another woman on vacation with him. And according to one of the expert witnesses; this is what set her off.  She then moved back to her grandparents’ home in California.
In May of 2008, Arias’ grandparents reported a .25 caliber gun had been stolen from their home. Pictures presented during trial show the gun cabinet with a pile of loose change spread over top that went untouched.
On June 4, 2008, Arias decided to take a road trip to Utah to see another friend/love interest, but decided to take a detour to visit Travis. According to testimony, they had wild sex, took provocative photographs of each other, and afterward, she brutally murdered him and stuffed him into the shower. After her attempts to cover up what she’d done, she left and continued her trip to Utah as though nothing had happened. She even left a voicemail for Travis asking where he was.
On June 9, 2008, friends of Travis’ became concerned about his unexplained absence and visited his home only to find his dead body.  They called 911. When questioned by the police, his sister immediately gave them Jodi’s name. This is when Jodi’s denial began to crumble despite her insistence otherwise. This is when the camera she laundered in the washing machine defied her and ultimately produced the photographs from that fateful day that Travis Alexander was brutally murdered. Illicit photographs of their naked bodies, Travis’ bloodied body were reproduced off the card showing the date and time stamp. And interestingly enough, forensics determined the gun that was used to kill Travis was also a .25 caliber—just like the one stolen from Arias’ grandparents house. Neither the gun nor the knife was ever found. Jodi later claimed she threw them out into the desert but can’t remember where.
An overly confident Jodi appeared on Inside Edition and told her interviewer on live television, No jury is going to convict me. I am innocent, and you can mark my words on that. When asked why she smiled and posed for her mug shot, she claims there was no reason for her to feel bad because she was innocent. While describing the booking process, she said, her first thought was, ‘Wow,” she repeated, “this is just how they show it on television. She further commented that since her picture was going to be all over the Internet, why not smile and say cheese? 
 Video for head shot of jodia arias
Here is the link to the evidence presented by the state. WARNING:  Extremely graphic images.
And then the Walls of Jericho came tumbling down and Jodi Arias was no longer able to lie. In August of 2010 she changed her story for the third time. She finally admitted to killing Travis. But now, her claim is self-defense. She said it all started after she had dropped Travis’ new camera. He yelled at her, which immediately led to his name-calling and body slamming her against the tile, apparently a frequent occurrence. She managed to get away and ran to his closet, grabbed a gun he had on the shelf, and pointed it at him never intending to pull the trigger, but to scare him. Contrary to this latest claim of brutality, during those eighteen days she testified, Jodi sang Travis’ praises as to how well he treated her.
In the end, Jodi’s testimony did her no favors because the jurors got to see the real Jodi, the Jodi who was the manipulative, conniving and cunning Jodi, who hoped her performance would sway the jurors. During her testimony, her eyes never wandered away from those twelve people. Not once did she say she was sorry for killing him. Not once did she show those jurors she had any remorse for killing him. Nope. Day after day, she sat up on that stand and acted as calm as cucumber. She answered the questions in a succinct manner as though she’d rehearsed each and every one—and chances are, she probably had.
The penal code in the Arizona court system is different from many other states in that the jurors are allowed to ask the defendant questions about their testimony. This jury hit her with 150 questions.
May 8, 2013, some five months later, Jodi Arias was convicted of 1st degree murder, and the jury was released for the night. They were advised the next day would be the final phase of the trial when they would get to decide her fate—life or death. The first step in the two-step phase of sentencing was for the jury to decide if Travis Alexander’s death was an especially cruel, depraved and heinous death. If so, she’d be eligible for the death penalty.
A reporter snuck in and interviewed her after the verdict was read. Jodi said she felt betrayed by the jury. What? She thought they were her friends? The one thing I noticed when the jury filed out one by one was Jodi stood and glared at each one as they exited.
The next day arrived and it was now the jury’s task to decide if Travis’ death was pre-meditated and if it was done in a heinous act of violence. In other words, was he aware of what was happening; was he in pain, etc? The experts say, absolutely. He was fighting for his life. They unanimously agreed. After it was announced, the defense asked for a polling of the jurors, to which each strongly voiced their affirmative vote.
Before the next phase, the Alexander family was given the opportunity to give an impact statement of what Travis’ death has done to them. Their voice weighs heavily on the defendant’s fate. They’ve asked the jury to come back with the death penalty. Behind closed doors the jury deliberated once again for many hours to no avail. They could not reach an agreement. Eight jurors said the death penalty, while four jurors said life in prison. When they announced it to the judge, she explained what it would mean if she had to declare a mistrial. She sent them back and told them to try harder. They spent the next day deliberating and ultimately came back with the same results.
At this point, the judge has no choice but to declare a mistrial only on the sentencing. It has nothing to do with the verdict. What this mistrial means is another twelve people will have to be selected to decide her fate. What else does this mean? It can take months before they can even decide because they must read over every single detail of the previous trial, examine the evidence and ask questions.  
Plaintiff’s attorney can spare us the costs involved by taking the death penalty off the table, but I highly doubt the Alexander family will be satisfied with that. His one sister is a police officer—not in Arizona, but they have pretty strong beliefs in the judicial system.
September 8, 2014 another twelve jurors will attempt to determine her fate. Let’s hope this has a better outcome than the last trial. The only thing that’s certain is there won’t be a media circus this time around because the judge has ordered this hearing be behind closed doors.
If this second panel fails to reach a unanimous decision, the death penalty will be removed from consideration. The judge then would sentence Arias to spend her entire life behind bars or to be eligible for release after 25 years.
In the meantime, what is the now, 33 year-old Jodi doing? She’s behind bars, in a tiny cell that only contains a bed, a toilet and a sink. Her food is delivered through a slot in the door. She remains in confinement for twenty-three hours a day with one hour to breathe in fresh air. She sees no other inmates nor is she allowed more than three showers a week.
Now I ask you, what decision would you make on the sentencing of this woman? Life or death, and why?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Howard, This One's for You.

It’s no secret; I’m a huge, huge fan of John Grisham’s work, but quite honestly, only his legal thrillers.  I don’t care for his writing when he strays away from that genre and tries something else.  For example, I didn’t like A Painted House and I’m not crazy about his Theodore Boone series, but then those are for young adults anyway.
I am a firm believer in writing what you know, and John Grisham knows the law really well. 
Today, I’m talking about The Chamber, the movie vs. the book.
I was actually introduced to John Grisham’s writing by my father-in-law, Howard Hughey, who was an avid reader.  He has since passed on and I can only hope he’s still reading John’s good work and my K. T. Roberts mysteries as well.   Now you know I had to put a plug in here for my own work, right?
What I like about John’s writing is that he captures your attention from the first chapter and the suspense mounts with each chapter.  I love stories where I find myself routing for the villain—so odd, isn’t it?  But I think that’s a sign of a real good writer.
The Chamber is another story from the 60’s era and about Sam Cayhall, (Gene Hackman) a Klansmen who’s a racist bigot from America's ole' South and is now on death row awaiting the gas chamber for killing two Jewish children who were in a building he’d bombed that had been scheduled to go off at 5:00 AM, but went off at 8:00 instead. 
Sam’s 26-year old grandson, Adam Hall (Chris O’Donnell), shows up at the Mississippi State Penitentiary only 28 days before he’s scheduled to be killed.  Adam is a new anointed attorney. This is the first time Adam and Sam are meeting, but he’s come to appeal his grandfather’s conviction.  It doesn’t take long for Adam's motivation of fighting this battle to become clear.  Truth is, he’s always been ashamed of having Sam as a relative, hence the reason his last name has been changed from Cayhall to Hall.  Several years earlier, Adam’s father committed suicide because he couldn’t fathom the thought that his father was such an evil person and part of the reason Adam has come to heal the wounds.
I thought both the book and the movie were wonderful, yet John Grisham himself called it a disaster and a train wreck from the beginning and wished he’d hadn’t sold the rights of the film before he’d ever finished writing it.  I didn’t see either of them that way, but once again, Hollywood takes liberties with the story to meet their budget constraints.
At the time this movie came out, I was reading the book and had three chapters to go before I finished it, so I put aside and figured I’d find out how it ended from the movie. Howard was so annoyed that I hadn’t read it because he said it was different and wished I’d read it so we could discuss it.  Well, Howard, if you’re reading this, I just read those three chapters, and you’re right, it was different.   In the end, Sam admits he’s killed a lot of people, but we find out that he did not kill those two children.  He had nothing to do with it but figured no one would ever believe him.
Howard, this ones for you!